Sportsbooks Don’t Give Illinois A Fighting Chance For 2020 College Football Playoff

Posted on August 6, 2019

With questions at quarterback and wide receiver and a defense that was deplorable in 2018, the University of Illinois football team has a lot of doubters entering the 2019 season. A review of the 2020 playoff odds for the Fighting Illini reveals that sportsbooks are among them.

Four of the country’s legal sportsbooks have odds posted on whether the Fighting Illini will win the Big Ten West, the Big Ten and reach the College Football Playoff. On none of them are the Illini anywhere close to the top of those lists, however.

Fighting Illini 2020 playoff odds: season outlook

One upside for Illinois in the 2019 season is the return of running back Reggie Corbin and four starters on the offensive line. Corbin surpassed 1,000 yards last season, and the only vacancy on the offensive line will be filled by transfer Richie Petitbon.

Head coach Lovie Smith has taken over the defensive coordinator duties himself for the upcoming season. The starters are experienced, and the defensive line should get a boost from USC transfer Oluwole Betiku.

The bad news is the lack of experience among the candidates for the Illini passing game. Neither Matt Robinson nor Isaiah Williams have any experience at the collegiate level.

The same can be said at the wide receiver position. Trevon Sidney followed Betiku from USC, but he is still short on experience, as are the rest of the players at the position.

The nonconference schedule is anything but daunting, so bowl eligibility could be had if Illinois can win three Big Ten games. A home game against Rutgers along with road trips to Minnesota and Purdue look like the Illini’s best shots.

If Illinois can win those games and run through its soft non-conference dates, bowl eligibility would be a huge feather in Smith’s cap. The sportsbooks aren’t high on the chances of the Illini doing that, however.

Illinois 2020 playoff odds: breakdown

Sports betting in Illinois is coming, but Fighting Illini fans won’t be able to go to the state’s casinos to place wagers on those games. Betting on college sports remains illegal in Illinois until IL sportsbooks go live.

Indiana and Iowa will soon both allow visitors to bet on college sports, however. Among those posting lines for the coming college football season in other states are DraftKings, FanDuel, PointsBet and SugarHouse.

Three of the four books have lines posted on the Illini winning the College Football Playoff. They reflect Illinois’ chances very well:

  • DraftKings +100000
  • FanDuel +75000
  • SugarHouse +100000

The aforementioned books have other future bets available that involve the Illini, both of which are based on Illinois’ fate in its conference.

Illinois Big Ten conference and division futures

All four books have odds posted on the Illini winning the Big 10 championship game. Bettors should note that these wagers are based on Illinois winning that postseason game, not finishing with the best regular-season record out of all Big Ten teams.

  • DraftKings +10000
  • FanDuel +25000
  • PointsBet +30000
  • SugarHouse +10000

Winning the Big Ten championship game will require the Illini to win the Big Ten’s West division title. DraftKings and SugarHouse list Illinois at +3300 to do that.

Getting to that title would require the Illini to surpass their win expectancy by a large margin. None of the four books are optimistic about Illinois.

Fighting Illini win expectancy for 2019

DraftKings and FanDuel have set the over/under for wins for the Illini in 2019 at 4.

PointsBet is a little more optimistic about Illinois for the upcoming season, however. Its win expectancy currently sits at 4.5.

Although there isn’t much optimism about the Illini, that means favorable odds for bettors. If Illinois can defy the odds, that means a payday for those who took the risk.

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a freelance journalist who resides in Kansas City, Mo. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

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